SAP to pay Oracle US$1.3bn in largest verdict of its kind

24 Nov 2010

In what has to be the largest payout for copyright infringement in the history of the software industry, a judge has ruled that German business software giant SAP has to pay Oracle US$1.3bn.

SAP has moved to calm investors and has said the verdict will not impact the company’s financial outlook. The company had initially set aside US$160m to handle the litigation.

A jury yesterday awarded the damages after an 11-day trial in California.

Oracle began proceedings against SAP in 2007, alleging its US business unit made thousands of illegal downloads and copies of Oracle’s software in order to avoid paying licence fees and to steal customers.

Largest amount awarded for software piracy

The verdict is the biggest ever for copyright infringement and matches SAP’s forecast net income for Q4.

“For more than three years, SAP stole thousands of copies of Oracle software and then resold that software and related services to Oracle’s own customers,” Oracle president Safra Catz, said.

“Right before the trial began, SAP admitted its guilt and liability; then the trial made it clear that SAP’s most senior executives were aware of the illegal activity from the very beginning. As a result, a United States Federal Court has ordered SAP to pay Oracle US$1.3bn. This is the largest amount ever awarded for software piracy.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years